WHEN mum Natalie Ridler noticed her toddler had suddenly gained weight, she knew something wasn’t right.
Little Morgan had also started to gain excessive body hair, so Natalie booked her two-year-old in to see the GP.
But during the appointment, the 32-year-old was told her son was ‘just overweight’ and was accused of ‘overfeeding him’.
However, in October 2021, he was diagnosed with cancer and medics found he was suffering with a tumour on his adrenal gland, known as adrenal cortical carcinoma.
This is a rare disease in which cancer cells form in the outer layer of the adrenal gland, Cancer Research UK states.
It is often referred to as a silent killer as some forms of the cancer have symptoms that you wouldn’t always notice, this includes being flushed and stretch marks.
Cancer Research UK states that cancers that don’t make hormones might not cause symptoms until they are advanced, with the cancer silently lingering in your body.
Morgan had been given a 10 per cent chance of survival after Natalie pushed for tests which revealed the illness.
The physiotherapist from Swansea said: “We thought we were going to lose our son because it had taken so long to get him diagnosed.
“I was angry that I hadn’t pushed harder sooner.
“I was concerned about perhaps, an endocrine disorder or hormone disorder, but I never thought it was going to be cancer.
“At first it was terrifying, I have a medical background in my job so I understood an awful lot of what was happening and going on.”
However, she said her husband Matthew didn’t have the same knowledge and because of that, Natalie said ‘everything was a lot scarier for him’.
“The fear that we would lose his firstborn and his only son was something he couldn’t comprehend but couldn’t stop thinking about.
“He really struggled to compartmentalise and suffered from PTSD as a result.
“It was really tough on him as he had to return to work during Morgan’s treatment as we couldn’t sustain ourselves on two lots of sick pay,” she added.
Weeks after seeing the GP, Natalie sought out private medical care, as she knew her son’s weight gain wasn’t just down to how much food she had been giving him.
It was at this consultation that medics noticed that Morgan’s liver felt enlarged.
In October 28, Morgan was sent for an ultrasound scan.
From the results, doctors discovered the mass and explained it was producing large amounts of cortisol and testosterone responsible for the unusual symptoms.
The youngster had to be rushed to surgery as the tumour had spread to his lungs.
His parents were then told that he would have to also undergo several rounds of chemotherapy.
Now, Natalie says she doesn’t think the family will ever recover from seeing him being treated for cancer.
“It was heartbreaking to have to see him so poorly, he was frequently sick and housebound due to being immunocompromised from the chemotherapy.
“Seeing him so unwell, having to force him to do things that he didn’t want to do, the unexpected hospital trips. He was very vulnerable.
“Between rounds three and four of chemotherapy, he developed viral meningitis and was very unwell.
“Morgan was bed bound for three weeks and lost the ability to walk.
“I couldn’t allow myself to think about the possibility of losing him, I threw myself into doing to best I could for my family and raising money for the charities that were assisting us.”
After months of treatment, Morgan was finally given the all clear in August 2022.
Natalie added: “It was a relief when he went into remission, but not nearly the exuberant feeling of joy that I expected.
“There is a high risk of reoccurrence and three-monthly scans to capture it early.
“After being thrown into the world of cancer, it feels like it will always be a passenger on our life journey now.
“There is constant anxiety that something will return, especially since Morgan was found to have a genetic mutation which makes him more susceptible to cancer called Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS).”
The mum is now urging others to push harder if they know something is wrong with their child.
She said that if medics would have listened to her, then her little boy may not have needed the amount of treatment he had to go through.
The mum has also created an Instagram page called Morgan’s Army, where people can follow the little tot’s journey.
She added: “It’s important that parents are empowered to push for medical advice when they feel something isn’t right.
“We had so much difficulty getting health professionals to listen to us and I really feel that perhaps Morgan wouldn’t have needed so much treatment or big surgeries.
“It’s so important to me to improve services for parents in the UK.”
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